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The Northerner

Food industry declining in quality

Lenore Skenazy KRT

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Do you think American food can get any more disgusting?

I mean, once Hellmann’s has introduced Bacon ‘ Tomato Twist mayonnaise – basically a liquid BLT you schmear onto bread (or lettuce, if you’re doing Atkins) – it’s hard to imagine anything less wholesome and natural unless we’re talking Michael Jackson.

Which we’re not. Because while everyone else is railing about pasty-faced alleged pederasts, who rails for the mom whose kids are demanding Chips Ahoy-flavored chocolate pudding in a tube?

Me! Your average, nauseated supermarket shopper, stunned to see there is now a liquefied version of what should be a solid cookie, served in a squeeze tube that should be a bowl, sucked directly into a mouth that, in an ideal world, should have demanded something a little daintier, like a plastic spoon.

Squeezable bacon. Suckable cookies. What next? Pepsi pellets?

I suppose I should really just thank my Lucky Charms – which, as you’ll recall, introduced the concept of marshmallows as a crucial cereal component – yes, I should thank my solidified corn syrup leprechauns that Jell-O has not yet started selling its pudding in timed-release patches.

Or single-serving injections. Or convenient surgical shunts. Those are still in test marketing.

Already on the shelves, however, are foods almost as appealing/appalling (depending on your age), most the result of adding cookie elements to candy, candy elements to crackers or cookie/candy/cracker/ crunch elements to yogurt.

Take, for instance, Nestle’s Butterfinger hot cocoa mix. Clearly, plain old hot chocolate just wasn’t cutting it. Nor was hot chocolate with bunny-shaped marshmallows, another Nestle’s beverage. No, Nestle’s marketing mavens must have realized it was losing the entire demographic of Americans who want to quaff piping-hot pulverized candy bars. And so … now they can!

Similarly, Chips Deluxe, a Chips Ahoy clone, has a new spinoff featuring mixed-in, mashed-up peanut butter cups. The chips are still there but now must compete for precious dough space with candy chunks.

And speaking of cookie-candy hybrids, check out the ultimate: Ritz Bits S’mores sandwiches. These are graham-cracker-flavored mini-crackers glued together with a cream filling of marshmallow (clearly edging out grains as the new base of America’s food pyramid) and chocolate. Each sandwich is then stamped with one of the Simpsons: Marge, Homer – even Lisa, who you’d think would refuse to let herself be appropriated this way.

But in the food biz, there is no shame. Everything old is new again, usually by virtue of extra icing or a dusting of sour cream `n’ onion flavoring.

If, God forbid, we are what we eat and we eat what they’re trying to sell us, then perhaps we are as dumb as these instructions on an Oscar Mayer Lunchables Nachos package would suggest: “Dip chips into cheese and salsa.” As my Ritz Bits cracker/cookie/candy/ Simpsons/S’mores snacktime character might reply: “D’oh!”

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Food industry declining in quality